Ontario mom told to stop breastfeeding at gymnastics class
Published Monday, March 19, 2018 8:21PM EDT
A Cambridge, Ont., mother says she was told to stop breastfeeding her daughter at a gym Sunday because her "breast milk could stain the mats."
Monica Makey was at Dynamo Gymnastics with her daughter Vayda, who is nearly two years old, for the pair's first "parent and tot" gymnastics class. Vayda wanted to nurse in the middle of the session, Makey recalled to CTV Kitchener, so she sat down where they had been standing near the gym mats and began breastfeeding her daughter.
That's when a supervisor came over and told her she had to move because of a food and drink policy at the gym.
"She actually said, 'Your breast milk could stain the mats,'" said Makey, who then asked if she could continue breastfeeding Vayda near the area where other attendees kept water bottles, but she was rejected again.
“I was angry,” she said. “I was disappointed and just shocked.”
The gym is blaming an employee's lack of knowledge about the rules. "This was an unfortunate incident in which one of our coaches was misinformed about our policies," said Lisa Rutledge, co-owner of Dynamo Gymnastics, noting they will bring in a breastfeeding specialist to retrain staff and that the gym plans to revisit all of its policies and procedures.
Makey returned to the gym later that same day and said that she didn't receive an apology and felt the gym owner didn't fully understand the laws in place in Ontario that support a mother's right to breastfeed.
"A lot of people believe that they are supportive of breastfeeding but they don't truly understand the laws," said Makey.
In an interview with CTV Kitchener, co-owner Rutledge expressed knowledge of the laws. "It's a mother's complete right under the (Ontario) Human Rights Code to breastfeed wherever and whenever she likes," the co-owner said.
On Sunday night, Makey took to Facebook to express her disappointment.
"I was made to feel embarrassed and ashamed for breastfeeding my toddler."
She said it wasn't until after the post went viral that the gym provided a response.
"We value your child's well-being and development as much as you do and are committed to fostering an environment where our athletes, parents and coaches are supported and respected," Rutledge wrote in a Facebook post Monday.
With files from CTV Kitchener